Jon Stewart hosted a panel discussion on the Daily Show on Wednesday discussing this question of potential Democratic pitfalls going into November. This is an important issue to think about because any Democrats who think winning any of these senate seats simply because the nominee seems like a wacky extremist are badly misreading the current political and media climate. The two major ways the Democrats could miss this opportunity, which were not directly addressed in Stewart's forum, are by assuming the voters all know how extreme the Republican Party candidates are in these races, and ignoring how some Democratic candidates, and thus the party more generally, will be portrayed by the Republicans.
The presidential campaign has begun to fall into a recognizable pattern. Every week, Obama seems to begin to appear more presidential and generate good news for his campaign, while McCain seems less able to handle the task of running for president. Each week he seems to make a few more gaffes, get a few more details wrong and generally fail to generate much excitement. Yet, the poll numbers remain stubbornly close. The newest national polls continue to show this race as almost a dead heat while statewide polls show Obama and McCain splitting the likely battleground states. The good news last week for McCain was that he was pulling ahead in Ohio and in a dead heat with Obama in Florida, while Obama had slight leads in key states such as Virginia, New Hampshire and Colorado. Obama is still the favorite but the poll numbers seem to be moving a lot more slowly than the campaign narrative.